This post comes to us from Sara Cotter, Curatorial Intern.
Today in downtown New Britain a newly-created and highly anticipated Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) wall mural will be unveiled. Wall Drawing #1105 “Colored bands of arcs from four corners” was painted on the exterior of the Dakille Building on Columbus Boulevard as part of Connecticut’s City Canvases Project, which aims to revive urban areas across the state by promoting the visual arts and the work of local artists. This initiative was funded by the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Connecticut Office of the Arts, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The City of New Britain, in partnership with the NBMAA and the LeWitt Estate, was thrilled to have the opportunity to create a public mural that will not only enliven the downtown area and an already thriving local arts community, but also pay homage to Sol LeWitt, a longtime resident of New Britain and lifelong patron of the NBMAA.
LeWitt grew up in New Britain from the age of six, attending New Britain High School and often participating in art classes at the NBMAA. He eventually moved to New York City to launch his career as an artist, but despite international fame, he never forgot his roots. He remained loyal to New Britain and the community that had first fostered his love of art. The NBMAA, in turn, supported LeWitt, displaying his early works even before he had become successful. Because of this long-standing relationship and LeWitt’s status as a “hometown hero,” when the city made the decision to participate in City Canvases, a LeWitt wall mural seemed a natural choice.
Wall Drawing #1105 is emblematic of LeWitt’s influential work in the realm of Conceptual Art. For him, the idea that formed a work of art was always more important than the actual object. While many of his paintings were never meant to last, his belief was that their underlying formula, or concept, would always endure. It was LeWitt’s practice to create such formulas, which included written instructions and pictorial diagrams, and pass them on to other artists to be executed, often never bothering to see the finished product, because in his opinion that was not where the value of his art existed. This has allowed LeWitt’s work to be endlessly reproducable, while still remaining true to the artist’s original idea. New Britain’s mural was painted by three Connecticut-based artists under the supervision of Jesse Good, a LeWitt wall drawing installer, which effectively supports the initiative’s commitment to community involvement. Despite LeWitt’s belief in the ephemerality of the art object, this mural will be protected from the elements and will grace the side of the Dakille Building for years to come.
The hope is that this project will become the centerpiece for the already numerous murals that exist throughout the city, and the others that are planned for the future. It will be one of the first sights that commuters see when they step off the planned city busway, and it will provide visitors with a vibrant visual entryway into the downtown area. City officials also believe that such investment in the arts will provide economic benefits to businesses in the surrounding area. This prestigious event will go a long way towards cementing New Britain’s reputation as an active center for the arts and creating new audiences for the art institutions in the city, especially the NBMAA.
Do you think a Sol LeWitt mural accurately reflects the nature of the arts community in New Britain? How does this mural compare with other forms of street art found throughout the city? Do you think the mural will change the public’s perception of downtown New Britain in a positive way?